I met our next contributor in seminary. If you don’t know Warwick personally, it’s hard to describe him. Just reading his work one could get the false impression that he is just mildly eccentric, even understated. Don’t be fooled.
Warwick leaks out and away from every typical category. First of all, Warwick takes great pleasure in being unusual. He’s involved and conscientious. He makes frenzied gestures when he’s excited, his laugh is thoroughly concussive, and he devours books at vertiginous speed. He’s intense, yet surprises you with his sensitivity. He’s intelligent, but that doesn’t ever seem to help him for long. He’s both a marvel and a conundrum. I like him and I’ve learned a lot from him. Probably when it was least expected, and often where blood, or tears, or sweat has something to do with it. I’ve appreciated Warwick in the same way I grew to like dark lager. (In this curious photo, an unseen doctor checks Warwick for a mutant sty that developed after reading too many spiderman comics. Or, I made that last part up.)
Smart Authors Balance Honesty and Transparency
-by Warwick Fuller
We’ve just moved for the 4th time in the past year. I just opened a box that was labeled desk stuff and found an old journal. How I approach my journal is different from my blog. My blog is mostly about my observations and the events going on in my life that are affecting me and the world around me. Because of my faith, these observations are thru a certain lens. I don’t think I’m bashful about that lens, but I am choosy about what I share in regards to that lens. I’m choosy about what I share about my family. I do know some of my readers. I don’t know all of them.
In blogging there are certain ideals, and those that post them well are the people that have a high traffic volume. Two of those ideals are honesty and transparency. In being honest, we can see the writer’s flaws, and the true humanity that is behind the words and stories. In being transparent, the writer becomes relatable. These are trust issues. A good author wants you to trust their work; wants you to understand and relate.
Being a smart author in such a personal medium is to know when to draw the line when it comes to transparency. For me there are a couple of rules that I have employed in my head to help.
- Never paint your spouse/child/significant other in such a shade that they are degraded in the eyes of others. I never want others to regret what I write about them, especially my immediate family. It’s unfair; they never get to defend themselves on my page. The stories I do share about them that I question I always run by my wife first. If she feels uncomfortable then its off the table.
- Never put your family in danger. Honestly, there are crazy people out there. My nana says more than there were when she was a kid. The post that draws the most attention to my blog is a picture of the Marvel Comic Family Tree (nerd alert), and I’m not sure who is being drawn in because of it. I am very careful in revealing certain details about where we are and what my kids are up to. I’m honest, just not naïve.
- It’s ok to make yourself the butt of a joke, but be redeemable. Some reputations have been killed by what an author writes about himself on the interwebs. Some comedians make a life out of self-humiliation. I think that may be fine for others, but I want to be trusted by those who ask for my advice. Because of the line of work I am in, others count on my opinion and advice. I do not want that ruined by a misplaced, though true, story.
- When in doubt, find a community to run your idea by first. I have a wife who is understanding and is intelligent. She also likes me, which helps when I tell her I want to put something on my blog. She’s god at asking the right questions that help me not just know what to put up but how and why. If you do not have a soundboard, then find one. Or at least, write down your post and revisit a week later, before you post it. This is just a good habit, anyway.
- Be aware that the truth you find in your observations may not be what others saw. It’s the old joke about the blind men and the elephant. If you are writing about an event that took place, it’s not a bad idea to make sure you saw exactly what you saw. Ask others that were a part of it for their own observations. It makes a story round, and they can provide details you missed.
- Don’t make yourself un-hirable. I have no idea what the future holds for me and my family. I do not want anything I’ve put up on my blog to put in jeopardy whatever God is leading us to next. Neither should you. A good reputation, to be trusted, is a desirable goal. I’ve heard better than silver and gold. Weigh your words and see if what you read is how you want people to see you.
So, fellow bloggers, how close an eye are you keeping on your words? What safeguards do you employ? Can you ever be too honest and open?
Bio: Warwick Fuller is a blogger at www.warwickfuller.wordpress.com. He names his pets after Anglican literary figures and wears bow ties. He is lead on his church’s Wednesday night Family Ministry, and is a USAR Chaplain. He is married with three daughters and lives in Harrisburg, PA.